Walking Distance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

"Walking Distance"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 5
Directed byRobert Stevens
Written byRod Serling
Featured musicOriginal score by Bernard Herrmann (accompanied with carnival music)
Production code173-3605
Original air dateOctober 30, 1959
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine"
Next →
"Escape Clause"
List of Twilight Zone episodes
 
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about 'The Twilight Zone' television series episode. For the Robert Earl Keen album, see Walking Distance (album). For the measurement concept, see walking distance measure.
"Walking Distance"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 5
Directed byRobert Stevens
Written byRod Serling
Featured musicOriginal score by Bernard Herrmann (accompanied with carnival music)
Production code173-3605
Original air dateOctober 30, 1959
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine"
Next →
"Escape Clause"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Walking Distance" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The episode was listed as the ninth best episode in the history of The Twilight Zone by Time.[1]

Opening Narration[edit]

Martin Sloan, age thirty-six. Occupation: vice-president, ad agency, in charge of media. This is not just a Sunday drive for Martin Sloan. He perhaps doesn't know it at the time, but it's an exodus. Somewhere up the road he's looking for sanity. And somewhere up the road, he'll find something else.

Plot summary[edit]

While driving his car in the countryside (c. 1959), thirty-six-year-old advertising executive Martin Sloan stops to have his car serviced at a gas station within walking distance of his hometown, named Homewood. After walking into town, he sees that it apparently has not changed since he was a boy, and it is the year 1934.

Martin walks to the park where he is startled to see himself as a boy. Following the boy home, he meets his parents as they were in his childhood. Confused and worried, Martin wanders around town and ends up at his former home again that evening as Serling continues narrating.

A man can think a lot of thoughts and walk a lot of pavements between afternoon and night. And to a man like Martin Sloan, till memory has suddenly become reality, a resolve can come just as clearly and inexorably as stars in the summer night. Martin Sloan is now back in time and his resolve is to put in a claim to the past.

Martin again tries to convince his parents who he is, but is again turned away. He wanders back to the park and finds his childhood self on a carousel, and tries to tell him to enjoy his childhood while it lasts. His advances scare young Martin, who falls off the merry-go-round and injures his leg. After young Martin is carried away, adult Martin is confronted by his father who, having seen the documents and money with future dates on them in the mature Martin Sloan's lost wallet, now believes his story. The dad advises his son that everyone has his time, and that, instead of looking behind him, he should look ahead, because the happiness he is seeking may be in the places he has not looked yet.

When Martin walks back into the drugstore, he finds himself back in the 1959 Homewood, during the afternoon. After discovering he now has a limp from the carousel injury, he makes his way back to the gas station. He picks up his car and drives away, content to live his life in his current age group.

Closing Narration[edit]

Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives - trying to go home again. And also like all men perhaps there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he'll smile then too because he'll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man's mind, that are a part of the Twilight Zone.

Cast and characters[edit]

Production[edit]

Unlike some episodes of the show that were accompanied by pre-composed stock music cues, Walking Distance was underscored with music specially written for it. As for other Twilight Zone episodes, Bernard Herrmann—also composer of the first season's main title music and most of its stock music—wrote the music for this one. The very intimate and tuneful score has an isolated running time of about 19 minutes and is played by a 19-piece-orchestra consisting of strings (violins, violas, cellos, basses) and one harp.

The park in this episode is said to be inspired by Recreation Park in Binghamton, New York. Like the park in "Walking Distance", Recreation Park has a carousel and a bandstand. There is a plaque in the Recreation Park bandstand commemorating the episode.[2]

Themes[edit]

Similar themes of nostalgia, its potential risks, and the relentless pressures of the business world are explored in "A Stop at Willoughby", "Young Man's Fancy", "The Incredible World of Horace Ford", and, to a lesser extent, "The Brain Center at Whipple's", as well as two Serling teleplays from before and after The Twilight Zone: Patterns and the Night Gallery episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar".

Critical response[edit]

"Walking Distance" has continued to be one of the most popular and critically acclaimed of all Twilight Zone episodes. One noted that the episode "was a little more depressing than most, in that it does not have a happy ending and the man’s problems are never really resolved.[3] But it is a deep meditation on life and lost youth that was compelling and interesting." Paul Mandell, of American Cinematographer magazine, wrote: "[Walking Distance] was the most personal story Serling ever wrote, and easily the most sensitive dramatic fantasy in the history of television." The episode was listed as the ninth best episode in the history of the series by Time Magazine in celebration of the series' 50th anniversary.[1]

Film director J. J. Abrams said the episode is his favorite, saying, "[The episode] is a beautiful demonstration of the burden of adulthood, told in The Twilight Zone, which everyone thinks is a scary show, but it's actually a beautiful show," and "The Twilight Zone at its best is better than anything else I've ever seen on television."[1]

Soundtrack releases[edit]

Due to the high popularity of the episode and the music itself the score has received several releases on CD in its original film version in monoaural sound and two re-recordings in stereo as well, one done by Joel McNeely with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (the only complete version) and the other by William Stromberg conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Orchestrator John Morgan enlarged all sections of the orchestra for the latter, referring to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings as Herrmann's main influence on the score in the liner notes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes". www.time.com. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Rod Serling official website
  3. ^ http://www.reviewstream.com/reviews/?p=84203 reviewer

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]